Bayern Munich got their Champions League campaign off to a flying start with Thomas Muller scoring twice to take down Greek powers Olympiakos 3-0 on the road.
The result, combined with Arsenal’s collapse at Dinamo Zagreb, gives the Bavarians a huge advantage and could mean they wrap up qualification to the knockout rounds faster than even anticipated. Always the group favorite, Bayern left it until the second half to translate their superiority on the field into goals, but once they finally broke through, Olympiakos wilted.
Missing both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery to injury, Josep Guardiola’s side was still impressive. Robert Lewandowski had a header cleared off the line in the 26th minute and saw Roberto Gago parry away another low drive eight minutes later to preserve the deadlock.
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But after the break, Muller sent in a high cross that caught Gago out, drifting over the keeper and into the back of the net. Mario Goetze and Muller then scored two very late goals, with Kingsley Coman getting an assist on the first and Muller converting from the spot next to ice the match.
Bayer Leverkusen 4, BATE Borisov 1
Javier ”Chicharito” Hernandez scored his first goal for Bayer Leverkusen as the German side began its Champions League campaign Wednesday with a 4-1 home win over BATE Borisov in Group E.
Admir Mehmedi opened the scoring with the outside of his boot in the fourth minute, nine minutes before Serbian defender Nemanja Milunovic drew the visitors level with a deflected header.
Hakan Calhanoglu restored Leverkusen’s lead with another deflected goal two minutes after the break, and Hernandez struck in the 59th. The Mexico striker ran onto Kevin Kampl’s ball forward and fired through the BATE goalkeeper’s legs for his first goal since switching from Manchester United.
Calhanoglu rounded off the scoring with a penalty in the 76th. Defending champion Barcelona drew 1-1 at Roma in the other Group E game.
Valencia 2, Zenit St. Petersburg 3
Hulk scored twice before Axel Witsel got the winner as Zenit St. Petersburg edged Valencia 3-2 in a thrilling Champions League opener in Group H on Wednesday.
Zenit coach Andre Villas-Boas’ strategy to absorb Valencia’s pressure and threaten on the break was executed to perfection by his Brazil striker. Hulk drove in his first goal on the run in the ninth minute, and bettered that with a ferocious drive from outside the area to stun Mestalla Stadium three minutes before halftime.
Valencia responded after the break and Joao Cancelo was helped by Yuri Lodygin’s poor goalkeeping to pull one back in the 54th before substitute Andre Gomes briefly equalized at 2-2 in the 73rd. But three minutes later Witsel scored from long distance to restore the Russian’s advantage for good.
Gent 1, Olympique Lyon 1
Ghent came back from behind with a goal from Danijel Milicevic and survived being down to nine men in the closing stages to earn a 1-1 draw with Olympique Lyon on its Champions League debut Wednesday.
After midfielder Brecht Dejaegere was sent off for a high tackle in the 41st minute, the Belgian champion still got the equalizer in the 68th minute. Thomas Foket was then sent off for a foul in the area three minutes from time, but goalkeeper Matz Sels saved the penalty from Lyon star Alexandre Lacazette.
Lyon looked set for an easy victory in Group H when Christophe Jallet dipped in at the near post to head home a corner from veteran Mathieu Valbuena in the 58th minute when it was already a man up.
Dynamo Kiev 2, Porto 2
Vitaliy Buyalskiy scored an 89th-minute goal as Ukraine’s Dynamo Kiev salvaged a 2-2 draw with Porto in Group G of the Champions League on Wednesday.
Porto seemed set for victory thanks to two goals from Vincent Aboubakar before 22-year-old substitute Buyalskiy struck. A free-kick bounced back off the wall and Serhiy Rybalka hit the ball high, Buyalskiy connecting with the header.
Buyalskiy was onside, but other Dynamo players were not and Porto goalkeeper Iker Casillas appeared to protest they had interfered with play. Dynamo held the lead for just three minutes in the first half when Oleh Husev opened the scoring from close range in the 20th. But Porto fired back quickly, Aboubakar heading in Miguel Layun’s cross before scoring again in the second half.
The Cameroonian forward scored his second in the 81st minute after a period of pressure by Porto, hitting the ball into the unguarded net after Dynamo goalkeeper Oleksandr Rybka jumped for a punch but missed. Deep into stoppage time, Artyom Kravets had a chance to win the game for Dynamo but hit the side netting.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.